CODEPINK Blogs from Washington D.C.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Delivering one million reasons to end the war in Iraq:
Chanting "money for levees, not for wars", 36 CODEPINK women wearing their reasons to end the war were arrested in front of the White House. Cindy Sheehan, wearing a picture of her son, Casey, was the first to be arrested.



Don't forget to read our mail:

Monday, September 26, 2005
Women Activists: Creative, Proud & Strong
by Linda Milazzo

I'd booked my flights six months in advance. Another trip to DC. Another political junket to be a mega-pixel in the ever-growing portrait of American discontent.

Before the war in Iraq, I'd hit the streets with the other dissidents, the right-wing dubbed un-patriotic, anti-troop throwbacks to the hippie era of Vietnam. I do cop somewhat to a measure of that identity. In the thirty-five years since 1970, I still don't like war, don't aspire to great wealth, or gravitate toward staid, wrinkle-free business wear. That's just not me.

The one thing that has changed, however, is for the first time in my political life I've become a "woman" activist. Not through a sex change or cross-dressing. Biologically I've always been a woman, but my activism never evolved through my gender. Certainly subconsciously, my politics were always influenced by being female, but I had never joined women's organizations, fought principally for women's issues, or felt comfortable in large or small groups of women. But even so, two and a half years ago, I joined the women's peace group, CODEPINK.

I'd started hearing about CODEPINK several months prior. But my interest toward the organization didn't fully peak until June 26, 2003, when CODEPINK women rented a suite at Los Angeles' famed Century Plaza Hotel to greet visiting despot George W. Bush. That evening, during a huge anti Bush demonstration, the group dropped a 45 foot pink slip from an upper balcony that draped across successive floors and spelled out, "Bush You Lied, You're Fired!" That was enough for me. The next day I got on the phone, located that evening's event, slipped in, and "pink slipped" up. From that moment on, barring a few personally instigated diva dips in the road, I've been CODEPINK devoted ever since.

And so, when September 22nd finally arrived, my day to fly to DC to sleep four nights in the temporary CODEPINK house, commandeered for a week to accommodate the many out of state CODEPINKers participating in the weekend's political actions, I thought about how tired I'd been lately, the menacing principal of my Adult School who would surely retaliate for my two day absence, and made the difficult decision to cancel my flights and stay home.

You see, until you've experienced a long weekend with CODEPINK, ensconced in one deliciously creative political action after another, you've never known what it's truly like to be out of breath for days on end. It's enthralling and exhausting, fulfilling and depleting, and focused on one thing and one thing only... achieving peace through non-stop, non-violent, ambitious, outrageous and over-the-top creative means. Indeed, the current face and pace of women activists are radically different from ever before.

Since the pioneer days of the suffragettes, who fought valiantly for women's rights, activist women have experienced a metamorphosis in method, mission and manner. "The early suffragettes were viewed with contempt, physically assaulted and even imprisoned. Later feminists were perceived by most men and many women as distasteful and threatening. Their critics deemed them unladylike and unfashionable.... Except for a small band of devoted husbands, fathers, boyfriends and friends, these hyper-independent freedom fighters usually fought alone. But current public opinion has shifted dramatically... In today's society, the once spurned feminist/activists are acknowledged as credible protagonists, skilled at social change. They are welcome partners to those who share their views and worrisome adversaries to those who do not. And in this imperiled new global world, imperially governed by George W. Bush.... highly evolved women activists are more necessary than ever." And so I've become one.

On Saturday morning, at home in Los Angeles, I watched C-SPANs coverage of the pre-march festivities. As the camera panned the massive crowd, I saw no one from CODEPINK. I wasn't at all surprised. You see, there is no time in CODEPINK to be still. There is no time to stand silently, listening to a procession of speakers. It's not out of disrespect for what the speakers have to say. It's out of lack of time for what CODEPINKers have to do. There's the store to stand up for the thousands who clamor for signature CODEPINK regalia. There's the pre-march gathering where CODEPINK gear is dispensed, chants are composed, and marching orders are delivered. In fact, there's so much shared adrenaline, most of the women had likely pre-envisioned the march from beginning to end... their hearts racing to pre-contrived rhythms, their shoulders naturally setting back as their postures assumed the powerful position of pride. Political yoga, perfectly balanced tai-chi, the honorable way of the Tao, flowing gracefully onward toward peace.

I understand the power of purpose and am desperately seeking peace. Later that Saturday morning, I went to our smaller pacific time rally and marched through downtown L.A. Ten thousand activists swarmed the streets of Los Angeles. Inventive signs were everywhere. I'd been too tired to keep up with CODEPINK in DC, but I had the strength to march through Los Angeles. As I marched, my heart raced to a pre-contrived rhythm and my shoulders set back in a position of pride. I was right where I needed to be.

This morning, Sunday morning, I turned on C-SPAN again. This time pro-war folk were on TV. A procession of speakers supporting the war in Iraq shouted tirade after tirade from their stage in DC, deriding the 300,000 peace makers crowded across the street. Their venom was palatable. The paltry audience, 300 in all, applauded the shredding of Cindy Sheehan and her passion for peace. They looked uncomfortable. They were obviously embarrassed that their turnout was so small. I observed their postures. Their shoulders were forward and their backs weren't straight. They'd stand a hell of a lot prouder if they'd just cross the street.

Linda Milazzo is a writer/educator/activist and member of CODEPINK.

Monday, September 26, 2005
By Gayle Brandeis

I am sitting in my office at home as I write. It is wonderful to hear the sounds of my sleeping family fill the house, but it was so hard to leave the CODEPINK House in D.C. this morning. I sat on the airplane in tears, sending pink, peaceful thoughts to all the civil disobedience participants, wishing I could be there, putting my body on the line with them, getting arrested with everyone. It is so heartening to see how much press Cindy's arrest has received (especially after the disappointing coverage of Saturday's march). As I drove to teach my class tonight, Medea was on Pacifica radio, speaking about the events at the White House; it wasn't the same as being there, but it was close; just hearing her voice brought me back to D.C. and the amazing, inspiring camaraderie of the last few days.

I never liked the color pink until I connected with CODEPINK. It reminded me of Barbie dolls, princess parties. Now I can't get enough of it. Other women have told me they feel the same way. The color is ours now; not Mattel's, not Disney's—it represents power, and compassion, and peace. Earlier today, as I stood in an airport bathroom during a stop over, feeling sad about not being with everyone in D.C., I held my hand under the automatic soap dispenser. A glob of bright pink soap fell onto my palm, and it made me ridiculously happy.

It turns out that the colors pink and green are beautiful together. CODEPINK was well represented at the Green Festival on Sunday; the STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW event was incredibly inspiring, incredibly galvanizing.

Between speakers like Cindy Sheehan and Nina Utne and Camilo Mejia and songs from Pat Humphries and Sweet Honey in the Rock, the room was wide awake, electrified. Such an abundance of important voices in one room.

When spoken word artist Rha Goddess asked everyone in the room to hold hands and send our intentions out into the world, I could feel the energy build. Later, we were at Bus Boys and Poets,  a fabulous restaurant/bookstore/ community-activism-gathering space owned by Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American man who fed everyone at Camp Casey.

Peace also deeply affects the minds and bodies of those who are called upon to do the work. What I'm feeling right now, upon returning home, is the opposite of PTSD; it is more like a post-bliss syndrome. And I know the only way to heal this syndrome is to keep doing the work, to keep the bliss (and outrage) going; I know everyone who was with us in DC, in body and/or spirit, will continue on, as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


More action continues at the White House!

Saturday, September 24, 2005
We Don't Exist
Cindy Sheehan

Last weekend, Karl Rove said that I was a clown and the antiwar movement was "non-existent." I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up today to protest this war and George's failed policies know that they don't exist. It is also so incredible to me that Karl thinks that he can wish us away by saying we aren't real. Well, Karl and Co., we are real, we do exist and we are not going away until this illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq is over and you are sent back to the depths of whatever slimy, dark, and loathsome place you came from. I may be a clown Karl, but you are about to be indicted. You also preside over one of the biggest three ring, malevolent circuses of all time: the Bush administration.

The rally today was overwhelming and powerful. The reports that I was arrested today were obviously false. The peace rally was mostly very peaceful. Washington, DC was filled with energetic and proud Americans who came from all over to raise their voices in unison against the criminals who run our government and their disastrous policies that our making our nation more vulnerable to all kinds of attacks (natural and "Bush" made disasters).

I led the march for peace along side such venerable activists as the Reverends Al Sharpton, Bob Edgars, and Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Julian Bond. Two of our Congresswomen with cajones from California: Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey also led the march.

Many people told me thank you for coming. I want to tell America "thank you!!" At the Camp Casey reunion this evening, I was so overcome with emotion and gratitude that I wanted to hug every citizen of this country. We in the Camp Casey movement are so proud and thrilled that America showed up in such great numbers.

So much happened today! I am exhausted but very content. I am again filled with a renewed sense of hope that we will get our country back and get our troops home. I was also thrilled at the number of young people who came out today. That is another great sign that the side of good is winning.

With the Reverends, we stopped in front of the White House and said a prayer. After the prayer, I said that we are light and they are darkness. Darkness can NEVER overcome the light, ever. As long as there is one spark, the darkness has lost. We will prevail, we will be victorious. The darkness has lost because our beacons of peace and truth are shining for the entire world to see. And it is a very pretty sight. Take that Karl.

Saturday, September 24, 2005
By Gayle Brandeis

We came for our children. We came for our grandchildren. We came because we couldn't not come. We came because it was the only thing that would keep us sane. We came because we were finally starting to feel hope again. We came to fulfil a life's dream. We came to expose the lies. We came to make a difference. We came to add our bodies to the numbers, to build the anti-war voice into a mighty roar.

And there was a lot of roaring today, amidst the pink balloons, the pink slips, the pink banners, the pink wigs, the pink shirts and bags and shoes and flags (along with all the other colors surrounding us that made the day so rich).

There were times, marching down the streets of DC, when thousands of voices rose at once, a sonic whooping wave that swelled like a tide and rolled down the avenues, vibrating in our throats, our bellies, our chests, filling our bodies, filling the air. How could such a tidal wave of sound not lap into the walls of the Congress, the walls of the Senate, the walls of the White House (a house so shockingly, blazingly white, it looks like it must be freshly painted each day)? How could such a roar not shake things up, shake our administration to their core (if they indeed have a core, and not just a hollow abyss inside)? How could such a glorious racket not change the world?

One of our chants started with a call --"Tell me what democracy sounds like!"; "This is what democracy sounds like!" was answered in response. As we scatter back to our homes in all corners of the country, we will carry that sound with us, we will keep it alive in our throats, and we will remember that even when we speak out individually, we are all adding to the chorus of peace.

Friday, September 23, 2005
Synchronized paddleboating and umbrella twirling
By Nancy Hill
Coordinator, CODEPINK Tucson

What a wonderful day of comraderie and peace building! I awoke at the CODEPINK house this a.m. to the sounds of people arriving at the house from all over the country. Luggage bumping up stairs, coffee brewing, folks coming in to drop off vegan cookies. People chatting about favorite actions and strategies for uniting people. It was energizing. While my thoughts flitted around remembering names, faces, hooking up my digital recorder so I could interview folks with good stories, I kept having thoughts running through my head about the people about to be set upon hurricane Rita and the soldiers and Iraqis immersed in the havoc of equally out of control forces.

It is always a precarious line between using creative energy to focus awareness on issues and going over the top. But the Tidal Pool Paddle Boat action once again proved the amazing synchronicity of CODEPINK think. The action involved at least 22 women dressed in pink in the paddle boats you can rent at the tidal basin. We paddled across to the area in front of the Lincoln memorial with pink bamboo and paper umbrellas with messages such as "education not occupation" written on them and when we finally all got in synch and were lined up with banners stretching between boats, and umbrellas all visible from the Lincoln Memorial it felt right. Tourists loved the action. Several fathers were explaining to their children what we were doing and how dissent is a part of the democratic process. It was really nice to present a non-threating image to the kids. A CBS news team showed up and did a lot of taping when we were singing the new lyrics sung to the tune of American Pie that one "car" of people came up with on the way to the action.

Why Why Mr. President Why?
The levees all broke
now the water's too high
Spent all our cash
on a war that's a lie
You don't care if poor people die
You don't care if Iraqis die
You don't care if our soldiers die
just as long as your profits are high

Then it was back to the Pink House to prepare for a meet and greet and organize that was to occur later in the day. But before that we had a very large vigil in front of Walter Reed where injured soldiers are brought. The adversarial group across the street was rude, attacked us verbally hoping for confrontation, and were very noisy and disrespectful of the vets they supposedly support. As usual CODEPINK was about real issues of importance to the folks inside Walter Reed and the people across the street didn't really have a message other than just attacking CODEPINK. We just ignored them.

Then after the meet and greet for all the Pinkers who have come from Fort Worth, Portland, Chicago, North Carolina, San Diego LA San Francisco, New York.

A long day but fruitful. Truly inspiring to see all these women building rather than tearing down.

Thursday, September 22, 2005
By Medea Benjamin

The day started what will be a long weekend of activism. It was only yesterday that we decided to organize an action today against the war profiteering of Halliburton in both Iraq and the Gulf Coast. We jumped into gear—finding the DC office, researching Halliburton's misdeeds, buying materials for props, making costumes and signs, coming up with chants and skits, writing a press release, calling the press, sending an alert out to other activists.

Then today at noon we showed up at Halliburton's door at 1150 16th St, NW in full pink regalia. We called ourselves the anti-corruption squad, and had costumes made out of pink camouflage material. We had a big banner that said “Halliburton: Guiltyof Rape and Pillage.” We made up two big “sample contracts” for $10 billion in Iraq and a multi-million one for Louisiana with pink “x”s to cancel them. We had computer print-outs of contacts to rip them up as part of our skit. And we had a big mask of Dick Cheney to mock him for his personal connections to Halliburton.

We also made up some great chants, like…

Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown and Root,
Go to Iraq and loot, loot, loot.
We're hear to say: Get out of Iraq.
And to Halliburton: No more contracts.
How many contacts? Way too many
And for Halliburton, not another penny.

We chased Dick Cheney around the streets shouting:
You can run but you can't hide,
We can see your greedy side.

We also did a great self-defense skit where we'd ask questions like “Do you think Halliburton should get no-bid contacts?” and the response would be karate-style moves and shouts of “No, no, no no.

Aside from Reuters and progressive radio, most of the media who came were foreign—like the BBC, Canadian radio and a South African TV station. We also had a number of photographers.

The building security guard wouldn't let us upstairs to deliver a pink slip to Halliburton, so we had to leave it with the guard downstairs. (I wonder whether he'll really deliver it like he promised…) From there we went to the buildings of the World Bank, where our friends were holding a protest. We made the connection between the corporate-friendly policies of the World Bank and the corporate greed of Halliburton, and did our self-defense skit to the delight of passersby.

From there we went to the White House, where we caught Dick Cheney and tied him up in pink ribbon.

Just as we finished our skit, we noticed veteran journalist Helen Thomas emerging from inside the White House gate and asked her to come speak to us. She was feisty and supportive and wonderful. She took a CODEPINK pin and said she's try to join us at our Green Festival/CODEPINK book party on Sunday night (we have a great interview with her in our Stop the Next War Now book).

Finally, we took our anti-Halliburton message to Congress, where there is a letter circulating calling for a ban on all contacts to Halliburton because of their history of fraud, waste and corruption.

Calling for an end to war-profiteering from Gulf to Gulf was a great way to kick off the anti-war protests this week, and we had a great time doing it!

Tomorrow will be another active day, with our noon-time action tying Iraq and the hurricanes together. Then at 7pm we have our evening vigil at the Walter Reed hospital. Stay tuned for more updates as the days heat up…

Monday, September 19, 2005

We're here in D.C. getting the house ready for the arrival of CODEPINK women from across the country, especially for "Girls' Night In" after the Walter Reed Vigil on Friday night.

Hope you can come join us from 9-11 pm for food, fun and preparation for the weekend's events!

After admiring CODEPINK's work for a long time, Emily has finally got the chance to work with CODEPINK women at Camp Casey and in D.C. for our September 23 - 26 massive anti-war mobilzation. She will continue with her peace activism until she leaves to work on her Fulbright grant in Kuwait and Qatar next February, where she will research women's political participation in the Gulf region. Below is Emily's blog from Washington D.C.:

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Woolsey Bipartisan Forum on How to Bring the Troops Home from Iraq and RALLY
By Emily

I had the privilege of attending part of this morning's Bipartisan Hearing on Iraq convened by the brilliant and gutsy Congresswoman from California , Rep. Lynn Woolsey. Citing the need to "fill the policy vacuum and break the silence on Capitol Hill," Rep. Woolsey assembled a panel of regional experts, scholars and military strategists to testify on the unraveling situation in Iraq and propose sound exit strategies.

While I could only stay for an hour— a group of us were asked to leave the tiny meeting room to make space for arriving Congressional representatives—I did have the chance to hear notables panelists Sen. Max Cleland, Dr. Katzman of the Congressional Research Service, Ambassador David Mack of the Middle East Institute, Prof. Antonia Chayes of Harvard Law School, and CODEPINK friend and founder of "Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives," Mr. Andy Shallal.

CODEPINK had a very strong presence in the room; in addition to Andy Shallal and myself, I saw CODEPINK activist Elaine Broadhead (who is hosting an IVAW benefit dinner this Saturday at her farm in Virginia) in a coveted second-row seat, and her friend and CODEPINK ally Tom Pratt squeezed into a nearby corner. Ray McGovern, who supported Cindy at Camp Casey, was also present.

Andy spoke beautifully about re-prioritizing our aid to the Iraqi people, stressing that while the U.S. devotes much attention to the new constitution, the Iraqis' greatest self-proclaimed needs are food, electricity, water and day-to-day security. He also highlighted recent Zogby poll results that show 69% Shiia and 82% Sunni Iraqis supporting an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of U.S. troops within a specified timeline.

Sen. Cleland outlined Iraq's unfortunate resemblance to Vietnam and called for troops to be brought home as soon as possible: "The best way to support our troops is with an exit strategy to bring them home!"

Prof. Chayes advocated for a transition from the U.S.'s warmaking role to a strictly peacekeeping one. She emphasized that we cannot hope to do both simultaneously; only as a peacekeeping force can the United States truly play a part in stabilizing Iraq.

Amb. Mack proposed seven steps for a "responsible disengagement," the majority of which focused on building political and economic relationships between a sovereign Iraqi state and the international community.

There were of course many more comments and proposals than the few I excerpted above. You can read more and watch the video of the hearing on Rep. Woolsey's website:

At 5 p.m. this evening we held a rally in front of the White House in Lafayette Park supporting Lynn Woolsey's hearing and calling for the U.S . to "Get Out of Iraq Now." There were over ten speakers, including Rep. Woolsey; Daniel Ellsburg; Ray McGovern; Progressive Democrats of America Exec. Director Paul Martin; After Downing Street Co-founder John Bonifaz; President of the Hip Hop Caucus Rev. Lennox Yearwood; and Gold Star moms Tia Steele and Lila Lipscomb. Our very own Gael Murphy emceed. The crowd numbered sixty-plus, including our core DC CODEPINK volunteers, and was really fired up thanks to the amazing speakers. My personal highlight was CODEPINK DC Allison Yorra's adorable young children chanting, "Wake Up America, Bring the Troops Home!" which they had learned at an earlier CODEPINK event!

Everyone here in DC is so excited about next weekend, and we can't wait for everyone to arrive! And the women we've been flyering around the city are thrilled about participating in the women's contingent. Keep up the great work, ladies, it's going to be fantastic!!

Photo Credits:
Suzanne Frey and Dana Baker

Ali Khaligh,

Jo Freeman,